New Data: See the Mortgage Mod Logjam for Each Servicer
The logjam of people stuck in trial modifications continues. Data released by the Treasury Department on Wednesday shows that the number of trial mods that have become permanent jumped in January, but the overall number is still just a small percentage of the number of borrowers who've begun the trials.
To illustrate the performance of the servicers in the program, we've created an interactive breakdown of the data by servicer. There, you can see how bad the logjam is at each one.
First, a look at the numbers: 116,297 homeowners were in permanent modifications as of Jan. 31, from 66,465 reported last month. That's out of an estimated 3.4 million mortgages that may be eligible for the program, according to the Treasury's latest data (PDF).
Under the program, homeowners are first given three-month trial loan mods. About 1 million homeowners have begun such trials, which are supposed to give borrowers enough time to turn in all their documentation and demonstrate an ability to make the lower monthly payments. The average homeowner in the program has been saving $521.85 each month, says Treasury.
But as we've reported, trials have been stretching much longer, leaving homeowners unsure whether their payments will jump back up. The servicers have largely blamed homeowners for this, saying that they've been slow in turning their documents in. Homeowners, meanwhile, routinely complain that servicers lose documents and make mistakes.
Our interactive chart reflects the program's problems. It shows the number of homeowners currently in the three-month trial period for each servicer, but also an estimate of how many have remained stuck in the trial stage even after three months -- what we call "in limbo." About 475,000 homeowners are in limbo.
In November, the Treasury reported (PDF) that servicers had begun a total of 650,994 trial modifications. But three months later, about 27 percent of those loans have had any sort of final resolution. In other words, 73 percent of the trial mods started three or more months ago are still in limbo. That's virtually unchanged from last month, when about 75 percent were in limbo.
To estimate the number of eligible mortgages, Treasury calculated the number of mortgages that are more than two months in default at the servicers participating in the program: 3.4 million. But about half of those mortgages won't actually qualify for the program, according to Treasury. Whittling down the mortgages disqualified for various reasons (e.g., the home is no longer owner-occupied or the mortgage payment is already low), only about 1.7 million of those loans will actually qualify for a mod.
A number of servicers have indeed placed about half of their eligible loan pool into trials. As you can see from our chart, those include two of the biggest servicers, CitiMortgage (the highest at 53 percent) and Wells Fargo. But while about half of the homeowners have begun trials, a large portion of those have been stuck in trials for over three months.
For homeowners with Bank of America, meanwhile, it's the worst of both worlds: Only about 22 percent of eligible mortgages have begun trials, and most of those have been stuck for longer than three months. Bank of America's servicing portfolio, which includes Countrywide, is by far the largest among all the participants. Treasury says that about 1 million of BofA's loans are eligible, nearly one-third of the 3.4 million total nationwide.
Banks and the government have fallen short in helping homeowners in danger of foreclosure.
The Story So Far
Systemic failures at the country’s banks and mortgage servicers have exacerbated the most severe foreclosure crisis since the Great Depression, and government efforts to limit the damage have fallen short. ProPublica created an unrivaled database of homeowners who have faced foreclosure, opened a Facebook page to encourage homeowners to share their stories, wrote profiles of some of them, and incorporated their experiences into our reporting. We also provided a comprehensive rundown of the numbers behind the crisis.
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